Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Review Squared, January 29, 2013

[Publisher: I am very pleased to be introducing a new column, today, from long-time CharPo collaborator Valerie Cardinal. Valerie is a senior contributor, living in Ottawa, who will keep an eye on theatrical reviewing, note trends, and draw attention to what works...and doesn't. GLC]
What to do when a show leaves you speechless?
by Valerie Cardinal
I will always be a Montreal girl at heart, that’s for sure. But as a hopeful future television writer, I realize that chances are I may have to move to Toronto someday. I kind of hate to admit it, but sometime I do wish I lived in Toronto. Really, I can’t help it when I see reviews for shows like The Wizard of Oz or Robin Hood: The Legendary Comedy Musical. My not-so-inner theatre geek starts flailing around a little in excitement. 
Even though I pine for the bigger productions that we don’t always have here in Ottawa, very few make me want to drop everything, pack an overnight bag and jump on the bus before closing night. But once in a while I read a review that excites me so much that I feel like I could do just that. 
Mooney on Theatre’s review of Final Savage Land made me itch to go to Toronto. To me, writing is all about painting a picture with words. Especially when you’re writing a review. If it’s a picture people like, maybe they’ll go see the show. With her review, Candace Irwin paints a very vivid picture of Sore for Punching You’s unique production. 
Much like Irwin, I’m a fan of works that are challenging and presented in unexpected spaces. I got excited just reading about how upon entering Oz Studios, audience members are given a little folding chair and told to sit wherever they want.  Just watching the trailers on Sore for Punching You’s website, I felt a little sliver of the intensity that Irwin talks about in her review. 
I find it much harder to review a show that I loved than a production that I despised. I don’t want to feel like I’m repeating “I loved it, I loved it, I loved it, go see it” for four hundred words. Who wants to read that? I get scared of building up people’s expectations and then getting angry comments when they come home, disappointed. 
I really appreciated Irwin’s description of the event she witnessed because she captured a feeling. I liked that she took the time to mention that this production might not be for everyone, but to give it a chance even though it doesn’t look like your cup of tea. After all, what is theatre for if not to inspire some kind of emotional response? Final Savage Land sounds intriguing and thought provoking.
Now if only my teleportation device wasn’t broken…

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